The Latest: Virginia gov urges employers to require vaccines
RICHMOND, Va. — Democrat Terry McAuliffe urged all Virginia employers on Monday to require the COVID-19 vaccine for their workers who are eligible, sharpening a policy debate in the closely watched governor’s race over how best to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.
McAuliffe’s call followed a decision by federal regulators to give full approval to Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine and marked an escalation of his advocacy for obligatory vaccines as a condition of employment. The former governor now seeking a second term has previously urged Virginia health systems and school divisions to issue mandates, and required his own campaign staff to be fully vaccinated.
“I have long said that the best way to defeat this deadly virus, keep our students in school and keep Virginia’s economy strong is by getting every eligible Virginian vaccinated as quickly as possible,” McAuliffe said in a statement.
McAuliffe is facing Republican Glenn Youngkin, a former business executive and political newcomer, in the November general election. Youngkin, who is vaccinated, has consistently urged Virginians to get the shot but has said he opposes vaccine or mask mandates.
He said in a statement Monday that McAuliffe’s announcement was an attempt to “bully” Virginians and businesses into compliance and a step that will “clearly evolve into closing down businesses and locking down Virginia again.”
MORE ON THE PANDEMIC:
— Lockdowns or vaccines? 3 Pacific nations try diverging paths
— U.S. mask, vaccine conflicts descend into violence and harassment
— Pandemic fiction: Fall books include stories of the virus
— The Rev. Jesse Jackson, wife Jacqueline, hospitalized for COVID
— Hurricane Henri thwarts Central Park concert hailing NYC virus rebound
Find more AP coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
VICTORIA, British Columbia — The Canadian Pacific coast province of British Columbia is bringing in a vaccine card for residents to get access to restaurants, clubs, sporting events and other activities.
Premier John Horgan says the card will give people the confidence to attend events and businesses knowing that others are protected around them.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says starting Sept. 13 a new order will require proof of having had a single dose of a vaccine to access certain social and recreational activities, as well as businesses. After Oct. 24, Henry says entry to the same settings will require those 12 years and older to be fully vaccinated.
Places where vaccine cards will be necessary include indoor ticketed sports events; concerts, theatre, dance and symphony performances; indoor and patio dining at restaurants; as well as at nightclubs and casinos, gyms and at organized indoor events such as weddings and parties.
The French-speaking province of Quebec already announced a similar measure while Ontario, Canada’s largest province, has declined to introduce a vaccine passport.
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — South Dakota House lawmakers have tried to pressure Gov. Kristi Noem to call a special session to pass a ban on employers requiring COVID-19 vaccinations even as virus cases climbed on Monday.
Several Republicans in the House of Representatives have circulated drafts of bills that would stop employers from mandating vaccinations against the virus, stepping up pressure on Noem to call a special session for them to approve the bills. But she has resisted those calls, saying there is not widespread support for a special session.
The issue has Noem, who has carved out a nationwide following for her hands-off approach to the virus, being pushed from the right to intervene on the state’s largest employer, Sanford Health.
House Speaker Spencer Gosch said late Friday he wanted the governor to call a special session as he released a draft of a bill that would make COVID-19 vaccination status “strictly confidential medical information” that would be off-limits to employers.
PORTLAND, Maine — Some emergency medical service workers in Maine spoke out against a COVID-19 vaccine mandate because of concerns that it would lead to ill-timed staff shortages.
The Maine Board of Emergency Medical Services held a public hearing on the subject on Monday. Democratic Gov. Janet Mills announced new rules earlier in August that require all health care workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 1.
Kyle Baker, a paramedic with Winthrop Ambulance Service, said “there are people who are willing to walk away” over the mandate. The new rules apply to firefighters and ambulance crews, as well as other health workers.
More than 600 people participated in the virtual meeting, and most who spoke were against the mandate. A common concern among the speakers who opposed the mandate was that would exacerbate emergency worker shortages.
Some speakers said they also feared burned-out workers who have complied with vaccine guidelines might quit because of an even heavier work burden.
Mills has said the health worker mandate is about “protecting health care workers, their patients, including our most vulnerable, and our health care capacity.”
The debate is taking place as the state grapples with rising cases of the coronavirus.
BATON ROUGE, La. — The announcement that Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine received full federal approval triggers new vaccine and testing mandates in Louisiana.
Louisiana’s universities will soon start requiring tens of thousands of students to get the shots. Gov. John Bel Edwards intends to begin mandatory, regular COVID-19 testing for thousands of state workers who aren’t immunized.
But just how many people the vaccine and testing mandates will cover and when they’ll take effect remains uncertain.
University inoculation requirements may not be enforced for months on campuses, and students will be able to seek exemptions.
Meanwhile, the Edwards administration said it’s crafting its testing plans, uncertain when they’ll be released.
WICHITA, Kan. — Debates about mask mandates and vaccine requirements are intensifying in Kansas as the delta variant sends cases soaring.
In the Topeka area, board members for the Auburn-Washburn district voted 6-0 Sunday to approve a mask mandate, effective immediately, for all students, staff and visitors inside district facilities.
Meanwhile, Sedgwick County Commissioners on Friday voted down a mandate along party lines after a heated debate in which an anti-mask activist said that he and other opponents would show up outside commissioners’ homes with megaphones if they passed the measure.
More companies, universities and local governments are expected to require vaccinations now that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has given full approval to Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine.
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden is celebrating the full FDA approval of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine and is urging the unvaccinated to go get their inoculations.
Biden on Monday addressed those who were waiting on the full approval and declared “it is now happened, the moment you’ve been waiting for is here.”
He also used the moment to call on private companies to require their employees to get vaccinated. The president made clear: “it’s time to get your vaccination” and warned that the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus was causing COVID cases to rise nationwide.
The FDA had previously approved three vaccines — Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson — under an emergency use authorization. Pfizer is the first to receive full FDA approval, which Biden dubbed the “gold standard.”
JACKSON, Miss. — Mississippi Poison Control officials say they are receiving an influx of calls from people trying to treat COVID-19 by using anti-parasite medicine purchased at livestock stores.
At least 70% of recent calls to the Mississippi Poison Control Center have been related to ingestion of livestock or animal formulations of ivermectin purchased at livestock supply centers, Mississippi Department of Health officials said.
Some of the symptoms associated with ivermectin toxicity include rash, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, neurologic disorders, and potentially severe hepatitis requiring hospitalization.
No hospitalizations have been reported. Most callers — 85% — have had mild symptoms, according to the Department of Health. One individual was advised to see a physician because of the high dosage they reportedly took.
“Patients should be advised to not take any medications intended to treat animals and should be instructed to only take ivermectin as prescribed by their physician,” State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers wrote in a memo Friday. “Animal drugs are highly concentrated for large animals and can be highly toxic in humans.”
There are U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved uses for ivermectin in both people and animals. Ivermectin tablets are approved at very specific doses for some parasitic worms, and there are topical formulations for head lice and skin conditions.
Ivermectin is not a drug for treating viruses. The federal government has not approved ivermectin for use in treating or preventing COVID-19 in humans.
ATLANTA — Louisiana State University will require students on its campuses to be vaccinated now that the FDA has given full approval to the Pfizer vaccine, but details of the mandate were still coming, university officials said Monday.
The university has more than 30,000 students.
Louisiana has repeatedly broken records this month for the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19. Most of the hospitalizations involve people who are unvaccinated, according to the state health department.
Only about 39% of Louisiana’s residents are fully vaccinated, one of the nation’s lowest inoculation rates.
WASHINGTON — The Pentagon says it’s preparing to make the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for the military.
Spokesman John Kirby said Monday that Pentagon officials are preparing to issue guidance to require vaccination now that the Pfizer vaccine has been given full approval. He did not give a timeline on when that guidance would be issued.
Earlier this month, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a memo that he would “seek the president’s approval to make the vaccines mandatory no later than mid-September, or immediately upon” licensure by the Food and Drug Administration — “whichever comes first.”
Austin said in the memo to troops that he would not “hesitate to act sooner or recommend a different course to the President if l feel the need to do so.”
NEW YORK — All New York City public school teachers and other staffers will have to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.
Officials announced the new policy Monday as the nation’s largest school system prepares for classes to start next month.
The city previously said teachers, like other city employees, would have to get the shots or get tested weekly for the virus. The new policy marks the first flat-out vaccination mandate for city workers in the nation’s most populous city.
SKOPJE, North Macedonia — North Macedonia’s prime minister is urging people who have not been immunized against COVID-19 to ignore anti-vaccine movements, as an infection surge has forced authorities to reopen field hospitals.
Zoran Zaev told a press conference Monday that a new awareness campaign would focus on refuting fake news on the pandemic.
Authorities say more than a third of the country’s 2 million people have been fully vaccinated.
Last week, Zaev’s government banned access for non-vaccinated people to shopping malls, bars, restaurants, concerts and seminars.
That prompted small protests in the capital, Skopje, and other cities — where many hospitals have filled up with COVID-19 patients, leading to the reopening of emergency field hospitals.
In total, North Macedonia has recorded over 168,000 infections and nearly 5,700 deaths.
CAIRO — Egypt’s health Minister says Monday they have detected the country’s first case of the alarming coronavirus delta variant last month.
Health Minister Hala Zayed told a news conference in Cairo that the first case of delta variant was for a 35-year-old Egyptian woman that showed “very mild” symptoms and did not require hospitalization.
Zayed said authorities have recently detected others cases of the contagious delta variant but none required hospitalization.
Egypt has recorded more than 286,350 cases so far in the pandemic, including 16,671 deaths. The actual figures are believed to be much higher, given limited testing.
COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said “everything points at no new nationwide shutdown will be necessary” because of the high number of people vaccinated in Denmark.
“We stand in a good spot,” Frederiksen said, adding that the nearly 70% of Denmark’s population of nearly 6 million have been vaccinated. Getting the shot in Denmark is voluntary and is available to people aged 12 years and older free of charge.
Frederiksen called the vaccine “the super weapon above them all” and urged all non-vaccinated people to get the shots, chiefly by Pfizer and Moderna.
“We are now heading toward an epidemic among those who have not been vaccinated,” said Health Minister Magnus Heunicke.
According to official figures, 80% of those hospitalized are have not been vaccinated.
Heunicke said that the plan is for all Danes to receive a third vaccine injection. However, it was not decided when the booster shot would be given.